Wildcrafting the age-old practice of gathering herbs and plants from wild. Purple Dead Nettle

Purple Dead nettle (Lamium purpureum)

“What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have never been discovered” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

You may see it on the edges of an empty lot or taking over yet to be planted garden spaces, or growing in patches across still-bare lawns. It’s an early spring flower standing tall over new spring vegetation.  Some call this plant a noxious weed other consider this plant a godsend for it’s nourishment and healing properties, while others seek out this plant for it’s magical powers associated with happiness and cheerfulness.

I for one see this plant having all 3 aspects. It is a weed, it has certainly established it’s presence in my unplanted un-tilled tomato bed. It i also considered as a beneficial herb because of it’s medicinal and nutritional values. It has magical powers, because knowing I have free access to it’s medicinal and nutritional properties makes me happy.

So what is purple deadnettle?  Technically it’s a mint. Purple deadnettle is a close relative to henbit (Lamium amplexicaule), which I also have growing in abundance under one of our ancient cedar trees.

The 2 plants have nearly identical flowers. While the leaves of both Lamium species do resemble those in the nettle family, these mints are actually unrelated to true nettles they have no sting, making them “dead.” As with all members of the mint family, they have a telltale square-shaped stem, though neither possess quite the fragrance or taste of a true mint. The deadnettle’s taste somewhat sour and grassy.

Purple deadnettle is an annual plant that grows from seed. Technically once it’s gone it’s gone unless seed remain. I think I read somewhere that 1 plant can produce 2700 seeds.

Common names: purple deadnettle, purple dead nettle, red dead nettle, Velikdenche. In some places, it’s known as purple archangel, because it blooms around the Feast of the Apparition on May 8, which was when St. Michael, the archangel, appeared to onlookers at Mount Gargano in sixth century Italy.

Botanical description: Purple deadnettle is a member of the Laminaceae – also Labiatae – (mint) family. It has heart- or kidney-shaped leaves, blunt, not pointed as in the Henbit species, and is distinguished by the purple tinge of its foliage, crowded upper leaves and small, reddish flowers, which have much shorter petal tubes than the Yellow and White DeadNettles, so that bees with shorter tongues than the humble-bee, can reach its honey and fertilize it. It is, indeed, a favorite with bees, who find abundance of nectar in its blossoms. The upper leaves are often densely clapped with silky hairs.

Purple deadnettle can reach heights of 16-18 inches. The cotyledons of purple deadnettle are oval, lack hairs and have crenate margins. Subsequent leaves all have petioles, though petiole length lessens upward on the plant. Leaves are opposite, triangular to heart-shaped, sparsely hairy and have coarse, rounded teeth at the margins. Leaves may be up to 1 inch long. Upper leaves appear closely stacked, are overlapping and bent downward. Upper leaves are more purplish red in color than the lower leaves, which tend to be deep green. Leaves become smaller as you go up the plant.

Stems are branched at the base, spreading and square in cross section.

Purple to pinkish-purple flowers occur in whorls in the upper leaf axils. Flowers are slightly hairy outside and have a ring of hairs inside. Small nutlets are light brown mottled with white spots. Reproduction is by seed.

Purple deadnettle has a taproot.

Plant family: mint

Taste: Purple deadnettle leaves have a slightly minty taste, however, more grassy than minty.

Medicinal Qualities:

Antihistamine: Purple deadnettle is a great friend to anyone who suffers from hay fever or seasonal allergies due to its histamine blocking properties.

Infuse 1 cup boiling water with 1 heaping teaspoon dried herb for 10 minutes, sealed. Strain and drink as much as you want.

Put 1 oz. dried herb in a quart container, or 1/3 jar packed with chopped fresh herb, fill with hot water, then cover to use as a regular tonic for chronic conditions. Allow to sit for 3-4 hours before drinking one quart a day only before and after allergy season.

Antioxidant: Purple Dead Nettle is an antioxidant, that’s why it can improve your immune system and thus, help fight infection. Since the human body naturally produces free radicals, the antioxidant is there to fight their damaging effects.

However, free radical’s amount is far more than the naturally occurring antioxidants. To maintain the balance, a continual supply of external sources of antioxidants is necessary. These external sources of antioxidant will obtain the maximum benefits of antioxidants to fight against the free radicals.

Anti-inflammatory: The next benefit of purple dead-nettle is that it acts as an anti-inflammatory. When our body is threatened by foreign things such as invading microbe, chemicals, or plant pollen, our body is prone to inflammations. However, sometimes inflammation persists at times when you are not threatened by those foreign things.

Many major diseases like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, depression, and Alzheimer’s are some of those associated with chronic inflammation. To fight the inflammation, we need an anti-inflammatory diet and one of the food sources that we can choose is purple dead-nettle.

Anti-bacterial: As an anti-bacterial, purple dead-nettle can also help interfere with the growth and reproduction of bacteria. The natural anti-bacterial properties of the plant can eliminate potentially harmful bacteria in our body.

Natural anti-bacterial is much safer than anti-bacterial products, so don’t hesitate to add purple dead-nettle to your diet and first aid. For healing a wound, just mesh the purple dead-nettle leaves and apply them to wounds.

Mash the leaves so they’re bruised, and apply them to minor skin abrasions and wounds.

Salve

  1. In an oven safe bowl, add ½ cup dried nettle leaves to 1 cup of coconut oil (measured in liquid state) or olive oil.
  2. Place in 200 degree F oven for 2 hours to infuse. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
  3. Strain the plant matter, and save the oil. Add 3 Tablespoons beeswax and return to oven to allow oil and wax to melt together.
  4. Pour infused oil into a pint jar and cover tightly. You may add up to 30 drops total essential oils of choice. Try helichrysum, lavender or tea tree oil or a blend of all 3.

To Use: Rub a quarter-sized amount all over bruises and minor cuts and scrapes to aid in healing.

Anti-fungal: Another benefit you can get from purple dead-nettle is that it’s anti-fungal. As an anti-fungal, this plant helps fight fungal infections by preventing the fungal cells from growing and reproducing in our body. Since this kind of antifungal is from a natural herb, it doesn’t cause any side-effects as you will get from antifungal medicine.

Diuretics: Diuretics are substances that increase the amount of our urine’s production. Thus, it can help your body get rid of excess water. Purple dead-nettle is a diuretic, that’s why it’s beneficial to remove this excess water, which is called water retention.

This water retention in our body will make us feel “puffy” and hence, cause swollen legs, ankles, hands, and feet. Take a note that this natural diuretic herb is helpful for mild water retention that isn’t caused by an underlying health condition that needs a doctor’s prescription.

Astringent: The next benefit of purple dead-nettle is that it has astringent properties. As an astringent, purple dead-nettle can be beneficial for toning the digestive tract. This is helpful for diarrhea and indigestion as it tightens and tones the tissue to get rid of unwanted discharges.

It also promotes healthy secretion for blood or other bodily fluids. Tightening and drying tissue, astringent is also beneficial for cosmetic properties to tone the skin, prevent sagging skin and balance oily skin. Gargling with a natural gargle of purple dead-nettle can also be helpful for treating laryngitis and sore throat.

Diaphoretic: As a diaphoretic herb, purple dead-nettle helps the body fight against fever and chills, cool the skin and eliminate toxins. It induces involuntary perspiration that helps relieve fever, promotes circulation, and reduces muscle tension and aching joints.

Diaphoretic works by causing people to sweat profusely. This type of sweating can be useful for one’s health by removing toxins from the body. It increases blood flow throughout the body by dilating superficial capillaries & blood vessels.

High in Iron: Iron is a mineral vital to the proper function of hemoglobin. As a protein, hemoglobin works to transport oxygen in the blood. Iron is also important for any processes in the body.

The lack of iron can cause anemia. Consuming purple dead-nettle will supply the sufficient amount of iron to your body. Iron can increases energy and can promote better athletic performance. Pregnant women are highly suggested to increase the intake of iron to promote a healthy pregnancy.

Vitamins: Purple dead-nettle is also high in vitamin c and a. The sufficient amount of vitamin will get your body healthy from head to toe and you will have a low risk of getting sick.

To take the purple dead nettle, you can make an infusion. Prepare a cup of boiling water and then add 1 heaping teaspoon of dried purple dead-nettle. Cover the infusion for 10 minutes. Strain and drink it anytime you feel like.

Purple deadnettle can also be chopped up and added to any salad.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional and this post is for informational purposes only, this is not to be used for any diagnosis or treatment and always check with your medical professional of choice before using anything medicinally.

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